Obstructing the field
Obstruction of the field is one of the ten methods of dismissing a batsman in the sport of cricket. It dictates that either batsman can be given out if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action. It is governed by Law 37 of the laws of cricket, and is a rare way for a batsman to be dismissed: in the history of cricket, there have been only one instance in Test matches and six occasions in One Day International (ODI) games. In most cases this occurs when a batsman thinks that he is going to be run out and he blocks the ball with his bat or changes his line when running between wickets to block the ball. It is legal to block the ball if, when a batsman is running between wickets, he does not deviate from his course and the ball hits him without the batsman blocking the ball on purpose. It is the sole responsibility of the batsman to not even touch the fielder while catching the ball.
The only time a batsman has been dismissed obstructing the ball in a Test match was in the South African cricket team's tour of England in 1951 when, in the fifth Test, Leonard Hutton top edged the ball and, thinking the ball would hit the stumps, attempted to hit the ball away, thereby preventing the wicket-keeper from catching the ball.
Obstructing the field is Law 37 in the laws of cricket established by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). A batsman can be given out for obstructing the field if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action. Law 37 describes the following three circumstances where this applies, but the law is not limited to these circumstances. If, after completing the act of playing the ball, the batsmen wilfully strikes the ball with a hand not holding the bat, unless this is to avoid injury, or any other part of his person or with his bat. The second circumstance is if either batsman should wilfully obstruct or distract a fielder preventing a catch being made. A batsman can also be out if, at any time while the ball is in play and without the consent of a fielder, he uses his bat or any part of his person, including a hand not holding the bat, to return the ball to any fielder. The latter situation is rarely applied, as the fielding side generally accept that the batsman is being helpful in returning the ball. A bowler does not receive credit for the wicket when a batsman is dismissed in this fashion, and any runs that have been completed before the offence is committed are scored (unless the obstruction prevents a catch being made[a]).
Earliest recorded instance
The first known instance of a player being dismissed in a manner equivalent to the modern term 'Obstructing the field' occurred in a minor match at Sheffield on 27 August 1792, between Sheffield Cricket Club and Bents Green. The Bents Green player John Shaw, who scored 7 in the first innings, had his dismissal recorded as "run out of the ground to hinder a catch". The information was recorded by G. B. Buckley who found it in the Sheffield Advertiser dated 31 August 1792. Sheffield won by 10 wickets in a match that was notable for two other reasons, these being that it was the first match played in Yorkshire for which full scores are recorded and it was the earliest known instance of a three innings match.
Mark Ramprakash was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 30 July 2011, in a County Championship Division 2 match between Surrey and Gloucestershire. Ramprakash was deemed to have deliberately tried to distract a fielder who was in the act of trying to run him out. He made no contact with the ball and it did not hit the stumps.
Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 21 March 2013 in the 4th ODI of the bilateral series match against South Africa. He became the first man to be given out obstructing the field after the new playing conditions were introduced.
Yusuf Pathan of India was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 15 May 2013 while playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Pune Warriors India in Match 65 of the 2013 Indian Premier League for deliberately kicking the ball while rotating the strike. He became the first player to be dismissed in t20 cricket in this fashion.
Ben Stokes of England was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 5 September 2015 in the second ODI against Australia for stopping the ball with his glove when the bowler, Mitchell Starc, had thrown the ball in an attempt to run him out.
Dismissals in international cricket
In One Day Internationals, Rameez Raja (for Pakistan against England at Karachi in 1987) was given out for hitting the ball away with his bat to avoid being run out going for his century off the last ball of the innings, and Mohinder Amarnath (for India against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad in 1989) was given out for kicking the ball away to avoid being run out. Another batsman to be given out this way is Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan in the first ODI of India vs Pakistan Hutch Cup on 6 February 2006. After Inzamam drove the ball to mid off, Indian Suresh Raina threw it back to the striker's end, Inzamam stopping it with his bat. Umpire Simon Taufel gave him out as he was in the line of the stumps and out of his crease (and thus would have been run out had the ball hit the stumps). The most recent incident is that of Ben Stokes at Lord's, London against Australia in 2015. Stokes was given out by the third umpire after an appeal by the Australians.
The complete list of batsmen given out 'Obstructing the field' in One Day Internationals is:
|One Day International dismissals obstructed the field|
|1||Rameez Raja||Pakistan||England||Karachi, Pakistan||20 November 1987|
|2||Mohinder Amarnath||India||Sri Lanka||Ahmedabad, India||October 1989|
|3||Inzamam-ul-Haq||Pakistan||India||Peshawar, Pakistan||6 February 2006|
|4||Mohammad Hafeez||Pakistan||South Africa||Durban, South Africa||21 March 2013|
|5||Anwar Ali||Pakistan||South Africa||Port Elizabeth, South Africa||27 November 2013|
|6||Ben Stokes||England||Australia||Lord's, England||5 September 2015|
- "Law 37 (Obstructing the field)". Marylebone Cricket Club. 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Buckley, pp.27–28.
- BBC, BBC Sport, 30 July 2011, http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/14353907.stm, 31 July 2011
- Cricinfo, Match Scorecard, http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-intercontinental-cup-2011-13/engine/match/516842.html
- Denmark v Nepal
- "Yusuf dismissal divides opinion". Wisden India. 15 May 2013.
- Buckley, G. B. (1937). Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket. Cotterell.
- Wisden Cricketers' Almanack – various issues